September 17, 2015 - Cardinal Seán O’Malley Remarks Celebration of the Priesthood Dinner 2015*

In Luke’s Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, the continuation of that same Gospel, there are 100 references to food.  Indeed, bishops are consoled by the fact that Jesus seems to have gone to many banquets; not the rubber chicken circuit, but lots of goat and lamb, stuffed grape leaves and hummus.
Even more challenging than banquets in today’s world is the family meal where a family gathers not only to break bread, but also to share the joys and sufferings of their lives. It is there that traditions are passed on and young members of the family learn their own identity and role.  The family meal is so important.
The Eucharist is our Catholic family meal, where Jesus makes a gift of Himself to us in the Bread of Life.  The Eucharist is given to us with the gift of the Priesthood, so that the sacrament will be available everywhere and at all times.  Tonight we gather at a banquet to express our thanks and appreciation for the priesthood which is made present to us in the hundreds of priests serving the Catholics of the Archdiocese and beyond. 
I say beyond, because we have men serving in the missions, the Armed Forces and at the Holy See.  Our priests also do so much to serve the wider community, beyond their work in parishes, hospitals, schools, chaplaincies to police, firefighters and EMT’s, and in prisons.
I am certain that each of us can talk about a priest who had a huge impact on our life or who was present to our family in a moment of pain and loss.  I recall a family crisis in my childhood, when my father was in a plane crash.  The local Pastor arrived at our home before we even knew if Dad had survived.  We are indeed blessed with so many great priests and pastors.
This morning I was in Rome with the Pastor of the whole world, Pope Francis, and tomorrow I leave to join him in Cuba with a wonderful group of pilgrims from Boston.  We all anticipate the Holy Father’s visit to the United States next week.  It will be a great blessing to have him in our country, to be able to hear his message of hope and the challenge to live the joy of the Gospel in solidarity with the poor and the suffering.  They are the protagonists of the Gospel and a sacramental sign of Christ’s presence in the least of our brothers and sisters.
During his time in the United States, Pope Francis will be the first pope to address a joint session of Congress, he will canonize Junipero Serra, the Franciscan who founded the missions that gave rise to the cities of California, and will speak to world leaders at the United Nations at a time when our world is convulsed by the largest wave of refugees since World War II, terrible violence in the Middle East, and growing disparity between the haves and have-nots.  But the primary reason and centrepiece for the Holy Father’s visit is the Conference of the World Meeting of Families. 
This conference in Philadelphia, and the Synod that takes place in Rome next month, will focus on the family, the challenges facing family life in the modern world and the great mission of the family to build a more just world, a civilization of love. 
The beautiful video we saw here tonight highlighted the importance of family.  Our priests belong to many families, including the parish families that are at the heart of their ministry, as well as their fraternity of brother priests.  Our priests care for us and our families, yet they still belong to a family of their own and have the same responsibilities that many of us have, to care for our parents, siblings and importantly their fellow priests.
I want to express special gratitude this evening to Brian Moynihan for his leadership as the chair of this year’s successful dinner.  We were touched by his own personal witness of the significance of priests in his own life.  We are also most grateful to all the members of the dinner committee, for their hard work during the past year that has borne much fruit in this evening’s event.
We thank all of you for your presence here tonight, and offer special thanks to all of our priests for their faithful and generous service to God’s people.
Our Church is a family.  During His last days on earth, Jesus promised He would not leave us orphans.  From the Cross he gave us Mary as our Mother, when he said to the beloved disciple, “Behold the Mother”.  I would ask all the priests here to stand as we close tonight’s gathering by together singing the beautiful prayer to Mary, the Salve Regina.
About the Archdiocese of Boston: The Diocese of Boston was founded on April 8, 1808 and was elevated to Archdiocese in 1875. Currently serving the needs of 1.8 million Catholics, the Archdiocese of Boston is an ethnically diverse and spiritually enriching faith community consisting of 289 parishes, across 144 communities, educating approximately 42,000 students in its Catholic schools and 156,000 in religious education classes each year, ministering to the needs of 200,000 individuals through its pastoral and social service outreach.   Mass is celebrated in nearly twenty different languages each week. For more information, please visit